Strong SQA results in Scotland’s independent schools

Data from the Scottish Qualifications Authority shows improvement across all sciences, as well as maths

With SQA exam results released, data from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) reveals that 62 percent of pupils studying mathematics have achieved a Higher grade A, with 91 percent achieving grade A-C.

The statistics, collected from the 47 SCIS member schools following the SQA curriculum (74 member schools in total), also shows that 57 percent of students from Scotland’s independent schools achieved a Higher grade A in physics, while 62 percent studying chemistry and 63 percent studying biology also achieved an A. This marks an improvement in results across all sciences, as well as mathematics, from 2018.

Commenting on the results, John Edward, director of SCIS, said: “Huge congratulations to everyone in Scotland receiving their SQA results today.

“I am once again delighted to see such an outstanding set of results from our member schools across the board, but it is particularly encouraging to see such strong results in STEM subjects, given how critical they are to filling the emerging skills gap in science, engineering and technology jobs throughout the UK.”

“A lot of STEM is about problem-solving, which is attracting many of our female pupils”

The coeducational Hamilton College is one of those enjoying STEM success. Between 50% and 60% of pupils go on to study STEM-related subjects at university, and 35% of that number are female.

Principal Tom McPhail said: “Subjects in the STEM field, such as engineering science, are practical in nature and also very challenging. A lot of it is about problem-solving, which is attracting many of our female pupils.

“We have also had a great deal of success in arranging external placements for both girls and boys who want to specialise in STEM, which gives them an insight to the world as it is beyond school.”


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Another institution celebrating their SQA performance was Lomond School, which saw over a 90% pass rate at National 5 and Higher.

“I am, once again, thrilled with our results and this is a very special time for us as a school,” said the principal, Johanna Urquhart. “To us, exam passes are not about the statistics – though these are an important part of the improvement process – they are about the children, and the stories that go with them. Knowing our young people as well as we do we can nurture them towards achieving their very best.”

Other Higher results for students across Scotland’s independent schools include:

  • 55 percent achieved a grade A in English; 95 percent achieved an A-C pass
  • 74 percent achieved a grade A in French; 97 percent achieved an A-C pass
  • 97 percent achieved a grade A in German; 98 percent achieved an A-C pass
  • 68 percent achieved a grade A in Spanish; 93 percent achieved an A-C pass
  • 83 percent achieved a grade A in Mandarin; 96 percent achieved an A-C pass
Hamilton College principal, Tom McPhail

Edward concluded: “Regardless of the challenges thrown at them, Scotland’s independent schools have always maintained an extraordinarily high level of academic excellence, and this year marks no exception.

“Despite the proposed removal of rates relief and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, among other economic and political challenges, our schools maintain a relentless focus on achieving the best for the young people entrusted to their care, which is once again reflected in another outstanding set of exam results.”